Chapter 1: The man on the phone
"Just in case something happens and you can't handle it or, better, him." That was all Greg Lestrade got from Mycroft Holmes as the scary man gave him an emergency contact for Sherlock Holmes, his new consulting detective, like he had titled his position about a week previously. He had started working with Sherlock a month ago, when he had found him and a murder suspect in the same place. One thing had led to another and now he had a genius as a consultant with a very over protective older brother, who had just kidnapped Lestrade and brought him to an old factory. "There are easier ways for you to give me your number, you know." Lestrade tried to sound brave but he knew power when he looked at it and this man could be very dangerous. "It's not my number I gave you; I could never stop my dear brother if he loses it." Mycroft turned around without another word. Not even explaining whose number he had given him and also hoped he would never need.
For all the time Lestrade had known Sherlock, he had never talked about other people. When Lestrade asked him, he confirmed that Mycroft was his brother but did not volunteer anything else on the topic. And this was about everything he knew about Sherlock Holmes' private life. Three years after the scary visit with Mycroft Holmes, Lestrade had almost forgotten the number which he still kept safely in his phone, not knowing he would be needing it today.
An old and banished house was his new crime scene and Lestrade has no idea what could have possible happened for a university professor to end up here with a knife in through his heart. There was no evidence that indicated another person had been in the room; Anderson couldn't find any finger- or footprints of someone else. There was no sign of a break in except for the entry way the professor had chosen: he had jumped through a window. So Lestrade called Sherlock who was bored because his last case had only been a five, and, as he had told Lestrade, it would be nice of him to call for something like a seven or higher or he wasn't interested at all. And how was Lestrade supposed to know what a seven on the 'Sherlock Holmes entertainment scale' was?
Sherlock arrived half an hour later, with a cab as usual, but he didn't look too good. His face was paler than normal, which was already really pale for a human being with a working blood system. "How are you feeling, Sherlock? You look a bit pale." Lestrade asked guarded, knowing that asking Sherlock Holmes something which was not case related was always a dangerous thing, and indeed the response came more aggressive then necessary for a normal question. "I'm fine. Don't ask stupid questions. We are here to solve a crime and not to engage in small talk!" Sherlock walked past Lestrade and entered the crime scene followed closely by the detective.
The room the body of the professor was found in was a mess: the furniture which had been left there by the former owners was ripped apart and pieces lay everywhere. Garbage and dirt covered the whole place. The body itself had blood and mud on it. Sherlock leaned down to the body and started with his examination. Lestrade could see his hands were shaking a bit und he was definitely looking a bit unsteady on his feet. But he didn't comment on the stubborn behavior of his consulting detective. It would change nothing, except cause the mood of the detective to drop to an unbearably deep and dark cloud making staying around him a nightmare with everyone having to suffer its effects. So the DI watched as the detective recovered a small and empty plastic bag from under the sleeves of the professor's shirt. Sherlock opened it and sniffed it. That something so simple would end in a disaster, no one had known.
Sherlock bagged the evidence and continued his investigation. He suddenly stopped midway in his movements. His body froze, except for his eyes which were moving quickly in all directions. "Sherlock…? Everything alright?" Lestrade slowly walked towards him not quite sure what would happen or what Sherlock would do. Donavan, Anderson and a few other officers watched them; they were also surprised by the lack of movement of the never still detective. Everyone knew Sherlock wasn't in any way normal but what happened next couldn't be right and especially not when the one doing it was Sherlock Holmes.
Lestrade touched Sherlock lightly on his shoulder to wake him from his frozen state. The reaction that came was fast. Sherlock took Lestrade's gun out of the DI's holster with one hand and with the other pushed him with an incredible strength away from him. Lestrade was shocked like everyone else as Sherlock aimed the gun between the DI's eyes. But what made it all even worse was that Sherlock's voice was filled with such utter panic, fear and hurt that it let them all hold their breath. "Go away, don't touch me, you only want to hurt me again." Sherlock moved backwards looking every person in the room in the eyes and holding the gun up so no one would dare to move. By the time his back met the wall he had already started to cry. Big tears fell down his face while he kept mumbling not to touch him or hurt him and to stay away.
Lestrade didn't know what to do. There was no way to get closer to the crying detective armed with a gun and he couldn't just shoot at him. Meanwhile Sherlock was sliding down to the ground one hand on his head ruffling his hair, the other still on the gun. This was all so wrong, but when Donavan whispered to Anderson "that she knew the freak would lose it one day" he remembered the number, the emergency number in his contact list.
Lestrade took his phone out of his pocket, walking one step closer to Sherlock and getting his attention. "Sherlock, I'm going to call someone for you so you can calm down a bit, ok?" He scrolled down to the number hoping it would still work. The sound of a ringing phone was never so hard to bear. Until on the other end the sound of a connection took place. The connection wasn't really good, but Lestrade was a police officer and he knew how gunfire sounded and that was the sound he was hearing at the other end. Gunfire and suddenly an explosion. After a few seconds it got a bit quieter and finally a human being answered his call.
"Yes, John Watson speaking." The voice was strong and full of authority.
"This is DI Greg Lestrade from Scotland Yard; Mycroft Holmes gave me your number in case of an emergency regarding Sherlock Holmes." Lestrade had never heard of a John Watson and wasn't sure if the battlefield sounds were real or a game. He hoped it was just a game.
"What happened? Is he alright? Please don't tell me he is hurt or has done something stupid." John Watson sounded worried.
Lestrade didn't know what to say, but a look at the crying mess at the end of the room gave him the right idea. "Something is wrong with Sherlock, I don't know what happened but from one second to the next he stopped moving, took my gun, threatened everyone he would shoot them if we came close to him and now he is crying. I don't think he is recognizing me or my voice; it's as if he were trapped in a bad memory or something. But I don't know how to stop it or help him nor do I have any idea who you are to him."
John's answer was a simple list of commands. "Please do me a favor. Call an ambulance, put me on speaker, turn up the volume of your mobile phone to max and bring the phone as close as possible to Sherlock. If I ask you to do something, just do it. Don't ask why. I will try to calm him. He was probably poisoned with something so the paramedics should bring a sedative so they can transport him to the next hospital." Lestrade understood that it was the only way. He told Donavan to call the ambulance and slowly moved in on Sherlock's position, pressed the speaker button and slid the phone on the floor towards Sherlock. It stopped a meter from Sherlock's left foot.
Sherlock first eyed the phone and then lifted his hand (with the gun) and pointed it at Lestrade. The DI held his hands up in the air to show Sherlock he wasn't a threat but it could have ended with a bullet in his head if John had not chosen exactly that moment to speak to Sherlock.
"Sherlock, can you hear me?" John Watson's voice was much softer than before and full of… full of love, Lestrade would say.
It had a very immediate effect on Sherlock: it looked as if he had completely forgotten that a second ago he had wanted to shoot Lestrade. "John? John where are you? He is coming to hurt me again. Make him go away. I don't like getting hurt. Please John, save me, he is so close. Where are you? John, I'm scared. Help me." He curled into a small ball on the ground, lying on his side still holding the gun. His whole body was shaking, more tears were coming.
"You know where I am, you are counting the days, even the seconds till we meet again. Tell me how long until you can come to the airport and collect me. Sherlock tell me exactly how much time is left till I can give you a hug."
Without looking at his watch Sherlock answered. "Three months, seventeen days, eight hours, twenty six minutes and two seconds. Private military airport outside of London. Mycroft will send a car so I won't get lost on the way."
"That's right. Now tell me where I am and what I am doing."
"You're in Afghanistan, being a doctor in war and helping people. And all that because you said you wanted to be like me. To help people. But John, why can't you do this here, in London? I need you and I miss you. No one is protecting me from him. He will hurt me."
"Sherlock, stop. That's not what I asked. Stick to the facts like you always do. We do it your way. So tell me now, Sherlock where are you and who is with you? Tell me the place and people that were with you before and after you started seeing him."
"I came to a crime scene, an old and rotten building. Lestrade was there and Donavan and Anderson, he always destroys my crime scene and a few others from Scotland Yard and the dead professor. I guess he doesn't count. But they are all gone now, I can't see them. But he is here, and he has others with him to help hold me down. To hurt me. He will call me names and laugh at me. And he will shout at me and tell me to stop crying or otherwise he will hurt me even more. Make him stop, John." Sherlock tried to make himself smaller and Lestrade, completely shocked about all the things Sherlock had said, wanted nothing more than take the crying detective in his arms and comfort him. But nothing was moving in the room except Sherlock's shaking figure.
"Okay, Sherlock, listen, you can only hear me because DI Lestrade called me. Do you understand? If Lestrade wasn't there, you would not hear my voice. It's logical, right? I can talk to you from a battlefield at the other end of the world because I am the one who can calm you down. You came in contact with some kind of drug that makes you feel fear and brings out your worst nightmares. I need you to calm down or the stuff you poisoned yourself with will harm you. I have a really important question, Sherlock. Do you trust me?"
Sherlock's head moved up, fear in his eyes. "Of course I trust you. You're the only one I trust with my life."
"Perfect. Then you need to trust me more than ever before. I want you to let go of the gun you are still holding. DI Lestrade will come to you now and sit next to you. And I don't think he would feel safe with you when you have the gun in your shaking hands. And the best way to end this scary situation is for everyone to feel safe. Alright Sherlock? Trust me when I tell you that the man who is coming to you won't hurt you."
Lestrade nearly missed his turn to move. But as Sherlock let go of the gun, he sat next to Sherlock on the ground, not touching or speaking just sitting and waiting for John Watson, who apparently was someone Sherlock had known for a long time, to continue talking. "Sherlock, Lestrade will put a hand on your shoulder, nothing more. I know you don't want to be touched but it will be your connection to reality." Sherlock's body froze as Lestrade put his hand on his shoulder. But he didn't run away.
"Sherlock, can you feel his hand? He is your friend and his hand will hold you in the real world. The nightmare you are having is nothing more than a dream and a dream can't hurt you. He is not coming. Lestrade will take the gun now. So he can protect you, in case someone comes to hurt you. I have to share my job of protecting Sherlock a bit with him." Lestrade took his gun back, happy there was one thing less threatening in that room.
Sherlock just obeyed. He stopped moving and speaking completely. His eyes were half closed and he was crying less. John's voice was back, as he knew how long it would take Sherlock to get used to Lestrade's hand. "Sherlock, you need to go to a hospital, a doctor has to examine you. The drug you were exposed to could be dangerous. I know you don't want to. But do it for me. I'm far away and can't help you. Lestrade has called an ambulance and the paramedics will give you a sedative so you can sleep a while. I'm sure you haven't slept for days; it will be good for you. While you sleep, Lestrade will watch you, so no one will get a chance to hurt you and after you have had a small nap, you will wake up feeling better und than you can call me. Promise me you will call me. Or I will be worried and can't concentrate and I could make a mistake on a patient or on the battlefield. So call when you wake up." While John was speaking, Sherlock was given a sedative without a fight. His eyes start closing and he fell asleep a few seconds after John had finished his last sentence. But he whispered a "…I promise…" before he faded away.
The paramedics took Sherlock away and Lestrade picked up his phone following them, knowing on the other side was someone trusting him to stay at Sherlock's side.
Lestrade pushed the speaker button again and held the phone to his ear. "Still there?" "Yes, please keep him safe and stay by his side. I don't want him to wake up alone. And you have to give him your phone when he wakes up. The number you called is a special emergency number, a high government thing, Sherlock has no way to reach me without it." John sounded sad and tired. All Lestrade could do was to promise him to do it and then he ended the call.
Lestrade watched the sleeping detective. He had learned today more about Sherlock then all the years before. Not all were things he wanted to know. But there was one important thing. Sherlock Holmes had someone special in his life, someone who cared for him, someone he trusted more than his own senses, which had been telling him he was in danger.
Sherlock woke a few hours later, still a bit out of it. He couldn't really remember what had happened, except the one thing: that he had promised to call John. And Lestrade was glad to help with that. It was a short conversation but a smile appeared on Sherlock's face the minute the connection between both men was there. That smile was so much better than the crying and scared face that was burned inside the DI's mind forever. If Lestrade were ever to find out who had hurt Sherlock, the word 'punishment' would get a new meaning.
Chapter 2: Monster
The lab had analyzed the substance that had caused the disturbing effect on Sherlock. It was in the small bag he had sniffed at the crime scene. Sherlock, who had already been coming down with a cold and was tired from lack of sleep, had had no defense against it. It was the same drug that had driven the professor into the abandoned building to commit suicide haunted by his nightmares. The drug was already out of Sherlock's system and wouldn't leave any permanent side effects.
Sherlock was discharged the next day, accepting Lestrade's offer to take him back to Baker Street. During the drive both kept silent. Lestrade didn't ask any questions. Neither about John, nor about the scar on Sherlock's neck that he had seen the first time in the hospital nor about any details on the person who had hurt him so badly. He was surprised Sherlock got in his car in the first place. But he assumed that John has asked him to take up on this kind of offer.
After Lestrade had closed the door to 221B behind him, he let out a heavy sigh. He asked himself what would happen next. There had been many witnesses to Sherlock's episode. Of course he could try to keep everyone from talking but one day a word would slip out and Lestrade didn't want anything similar to this to ever happen again. He would never forget the fear or the tears in the detective's eyes. There had been nothing left of the self-confident and strong man that could bring down criminals with just a look.
As Lestrade was thinking a black car stopped in front of him. A young woman got out, a phone in her hands. She kept her eyes fixed on the screen. "Mr. Holmes would like to have a talk with you." She told him, getting back into the car and waiting for him to follow. Lestrade wasn't in the mood for Mycroft Holmes' mind games or another empty factory. But he knew if he got inside the car he could find a few answers to his many questions.
The drive was short and didn't end in an old factory but at a normal house, one for richer people but nothing scary or screaming power like the last time. The woman stayed in the car and Lestrade climbed out and took the last steps to the front door. Before he got the chance to knock, the door opened and the man himself stood in front of him. Mycroft Holmes hadn't aged in the three years since their last meeting. But he looked tired and very sad. He let Lestrade follow him into a living room, offering tea and sitting down on a sofa. Lestrade took the sofa on the other side.
How to start this kind of conversation? With an innocent question? A joke? Or just wait till the other party started talking. The latter happened. Mycroft looked at him. "How is my brother?" Lestrade had a few answers in his head and decided for the truth. "Better than yesterday, but it was disturbing and I don't know what would have happened if you hadn't given me John Watson's number?" "You have questions? Ask!" Mycroft replied.
"Who was it?" Lestrade simply asked. Mycroft leaned back, holding his tea cup tightly in his hands. "I will tell you a story about a monster and a hero. About a victim and someone who missed it all. I can tell you what the investigation results were and the little bit John Watson told me. Sherlock has never talked about it to anyone except to John. He didn't speak for a long time after it happened and I think he has locked most of it away somewhere in his mind palace."
And with this Mycroft began to tell him the story:
"When I turned fifteen, I received an offer to join the government as a trainee for a special position. I had to leave my home, my family, my friends and everything I had known up to that day behind. I wasn't allowed to have contact with anyone in the course of the following three years. My brother was eight years old and I thought he was safe at home with our parents. A few months after I had left, my mother died. She had had an accident and from what I could figure out later, my father had a mental breakdown just a week after the funeral. He blamed Sherlock for the death of his wife and locked him in the cellar, a chain around his neck that has left a scar that will never fade. He beat and starved him to a dangerous level. For the following two years Sherlock was down there in the dark alone, except for the times my father would come down to hurt him, calling him things like monster, murderer or freak. My father had never understood our ability to read people and he feared it. Because Sherlock had been home schooled the years before, no one missed him. My father shut out the rest of the existing world and did nothing else than try to destroy my brother."
Mycroft looked out the window, his thoughts far away in the past, wishing he could change what had happened. But after years of wishing it he knew he couldn't change what had happened. The past was past and no one could change it. His eyes moved back to Lestrade and he could see the horror the beginning of the story had left. But it would get even worse.
"My father left him down there for more than two years. My brother lost more than two years of his short life. He stole his childhood and took so much more things from Sherlock. I can't even count them and he will never get them back.
In the summer Sherlock turned eleven John Watson was on vacation in a hotel near our house. One evening in a pub he heard about the haunted house, our house, and about the screams that could sometimes be heard. John, who was a twenty year old medicine student, couldn't resist and broke into our house. He found Sherlock there but got into a bit of trouble. My father must have caught him and for the remaining time till I arrived back home, he kept both of them down in the cellar.
John told me that my father hurt him too, but always made sure Sherlock got more of anything he did. In the end Sherlock was in a much worse state than John and both had a connection only they could understand.
The day my training was over I got the message of my mother's death. I went home as fast as I could to find Sherlock scared to death. He was pressing down his hand on a gunshot wound on John's shoulder, which was bleeding out, still chained to the wall. Next to them was the dead body of my father with a broken neck.
Later in the hospital John gave a statement, Sherlock wasn't able to talk. He told about the captivity, the things my father did to them and how it had ended when he had come down with the gun pointing it at Sherlock and shooting. John was able cover him with his body with the result of getting shot himself in the shoulder. Still able to move he attacked my father and broke his neck. He was an old man and had not much fight left in him. Unfortunately nothing a kid could have gone against.
John said noting more about it, expecting to be punished for killing someone. Sherlock was badly traumatized and only John's presence could make it better.
I had come home from a job where I had trained how to make my country a safer place for my family. What I found was my mother had died; my father had nearly killed my little brother and died himself while trying. I found nothing but a destroyed home."
Mycroft had finished and sat there with closed eyes. Still not back in the present. Lestrade thought about the story that he had just told him. He still didn't know what exactly had happened but as a police officer you had enough imagination in this area to understand what must have happened. And another thing was clear: the man that had hurt Sherlock was no longer in this world.
Both men stayed silent for a long time. Until Lestrade stood up and walked to the door, facing his back to Mycroft he said: "What happened wasn't your fault. You tried to make a better future for your family." With that he left the room. A black car was waiting in front of the house to bring him back to his destination.
Mycroft only moved when the car was out of sight and covered his eyes whit his shaking hands. Not really crying but hiding the emotions that crushed down on him again.
Chapter 3: The chain
The yellow and beige sand of Afghanistan was getting smaller and smaller. Great mountains with snow on some of the peaks were under him. The sound of the military plane made every attempt to sleep a waste of time. After they were above the clouds there was nothing interesting to see outside the window.
John moved his vision back into the cabin. A couple of soldiers were with him. No one talked, all in their own thoughts. Two of the soldiers were wounded but nothing too serious.
It had been three and a half months since he had talked the last time to Sherlock. It was scary how deep the fear inside his soul was. Sherlock always did everything to appear strong, but deep inside he was still the eleven year old boy John had found alone in the cellar of his house. His voice and the words he had used were the same as in the countless nightmares John had guided him trough. He tried not to think about the time Mycroft had visited them during one of Sherlock's experiments and both hat argued. It had ended the same way. With Sherlock scared to death his father would come back to hurt him. One of the chemicals got mixed wrong and Sherlock came in contact with it. John had to send Mycroft away. He knew who it hurt the man not to be able to help his brother.
He was glad Sherlock didn't remember the whole episode at the crime scene nor the one at the flat with Mycroft. He had sounded normal, a bit small, but nothing else. Almost his strong and adult self again. Almost. John didn't want him to feel ashamed or anything like that.
John missed him more than he would have thought and the last months had been harder than expected. After the phone call he had been in a constant state of worry for Sherlock, always kept the phone next to him. But he never called again. That was a good thing in one way. It meant there had been no further incidents. But John missed his voice, his presence, his quiet snoring in the night, the violin playing and the constant fights about his eating habits.
The Afghanistan tour had been an attempt for both of them to prove they could stand on their own feet. To prove that should something happen to the other one, they needed to be able to live alone. Because John knew that if he were to die, Sherlock would follow. And he wasn't sure he wouldn't do the same thing. Since that day so many years ago, both of them depended on each other. Distance hadn't harmed them, only enforced the fact that he needed Sherlock like Sherlock needed him.
The sky became darker and the plane moved into the short night ahead. John wanted nothing more than to get out of here and hug his genius. He had still a few hours until he could do this.
John's thoughts wandered off to the day he had met Sherlock. He had been in his first year in college. He had been twenty, he remembered. Driven into med school by his parents, he wasn't sure it was the right thing for him. Of course he felt good about helping people and becoming a doctor would allow him to save many lives. But there were other ways to help people, not limited only to curing their illnesses or injuries.
During his first break he had gone to visit his sister, Harry. She had been living outside London and having a difficult time, again. She had broken up with her girlfriend and John, like a good brother, had watched her for a while, so that she couldn't drink herself to death. It had become a habit of hers to start in the early morning and finish her drinking contest in the middle of the night, crying like a baby and falling asleep on the sofa. John had picked up what was left and carried her to bed. So she could start again on the next day. He had tried to talk to her, dispose of all alcohol he could find but she always found a way to get drunk again.
One evening, John was out doing the shopping, Harry had escaped the house and a few hours later a bar owner had called John to pick her up. As he arrived at the pub the owner had pointed to the restrooms. John signing heavily had walked to the ladies room, and called for Harry. She had been busy letting the alcohol out of her body, but from the wrong side. He had told her he would wait outside the door.
The door to the men's room had been open and John had overheard a conversation between two older men. "…like an animal. I guess he butchered an animal down there. You never see him in town or in the shops; I guess he makes his own stuff. But the scream I heard, I thought there was someone murdering someone else." Said the first man. "You are probably right but since his wife died he lost it somewhere. His sons, two I think, haven't seen them in a while either. The older one wasn't even at the funeral; I only saw the little one. Maybe he is at the same school as his brother. Better there as with that crazy man." The second man answered. The toilets were flushed and the water from the sink could be heard. The first one then added: "I liked the Holmes family, really sad what happens with some people when someone dies, it was an accident, right?" John hadn't heard the answer because a really drunk and singing Harry had come out and for a change ready to leave. Not pressing his luck he had led her out of the pub, before she could change her mind and get another drink.
A few days after he had picked up Harry, they had had a big fight. Not really about the drinking but about this frozen state. John would be going back to college two weeks later and he couldn't leave her alone like this. But Harry drinking again had seen nothing wrong with her life. John had just lost it, picked up his coat and left the flat. He had known he would come back later, she would apologize and they would both work on a solution.
He had walked between the houses following a small path. The street lights hadn't been turned on yet. John had stopped in front of an old and ridiculously huge gate. Looking around he realized he had reached the end of the way. It was literally the last house before the road led you out of town. His eyes caught a name on the side of the gate that sounded familiar: 'Holmes'. It had taken John a second to remember what the two men in the restroom had talked about. As he had just started his way back, he had heard it. A horrible scream coming from the house. John had stopped and listened. But no more screams or other sounds had come.
A few minutes passed and a light had been turned on in the second floor. John was sure the sound had come from closer to the ground, the cellar. At the bottom of the house was a small window, a very weak light was there. John didn't know when he had decided to move or how had he climbed over the fence but a few seconds later he had been next to the window looking down. The light hadn't been enough to get a good look at the room. With one hand he had tested the window, it hadn't been locked. Without thinking John had pushed it open and climbed in.
The room was bigger than he had thought, the walls had been made of stone and on the other side he had seen stairs. The smell had been disgusting, like a very dirty and smelly public restroom mixed with a butcher hall full of blood. Suddenly there had been a sound on the left wall side. He had listened closer; something was alive in the corner, something that breathed. And then he had seen him.
John was not a coward. He had moved slowly to the place the being might be. Getting closer the sound came again and something had crawled over the floor away from him. John had been standing under the light and had turned up the power. Not too much as the being might have a problem with light.
As the light had become brighter more details of the cellar could be made out. The dirty floor, the door at the top of the stairs and the rings on the wall with a chain. John's eyes had followed the chain to the ground and up again to a collar around the neck of a human being. There had been no animal or monster or something dangerous down here. It wasn't even an adult, a boy, John guessed around ten. He had had one of his hands over his eyes to protect them from the light. He had been wearing only old, dirty and torn pants and something that must have been a shirt before. Both the clothes and the boy had been covered in dirt and blood. He had seen bruises all over the small body and it everything around him had been wet. Water had dropped from his hair to prove it.
The boy had been trembling with fear or because of the cold he must have been feeling with the wet clothes. John hadn't been sure. Very slowly John had walked closer to the boy but after the first step he had seen the panic rise inside the small body and stopped. He had sat down on the dirty floor, waiting for the boy to get used to his presence. Painful minutes had passed. Slowly the boy had let his arm sink to lie in his lap; he eyes had adjusted to the light and started to observe him. First very carefully so as to not appear too interested and then with wide open eyes as he tried to get every bit of information he could. He hadn't said a word. The only sound had come from the chain around his neck when he moved. John had tried to locate possible injuries that needed to be taken care of but it had been difficult for him. Most of the body had been covered in bruises, cuts or old blood mixed up with dirt.
Following his instincts, like he had done when sitting down, he had looked directly into the boys eyes and asked what had come first to his mind. "What can you see?" John didn't know where this question had come from but the eyes of the boy had told him he could see more than him, more than anyone. The boy had frozen in his tiny movements and tried to creep further away from him as if he were able to hide in the wall away from John.
Okay that was not the kind of reaction John had hoped for. So there was still the classic version. "Don't be afraid. I won't hurt you. My name is John. What's your name?" The boy didn't move and he didn't answer. John knew the screams must have come from him so at least physically he should be able to talk. "Can I have a look at your injuries, I'm a doctor, and maybe I can help?" The boy looked at him in disbelieve. "You are not a doctor; you are only a medical student who has finished his first year."
"How did you know that, I didn't say anything about that?" Instead of answering his question the boy started to cry. "I'm sorry. I won't do it again. Please don't tell my father. I didn't see anything else. I won't tell anyone about your sister or-…" He stopped, pressing his hands on his mouth. Shaking his head and bringing out more tears.
John didn't quite get what the problem was here or why the boy was so frightened but he knew when a traumatized child was sitting in front of him. "I'm not angry or mad, you just surprised me. Will you tell me how you know all of this?" The boy looked at him like John was something he hadn't seen before. Like a mystical creature or an alien. "If you don't want to tell me, it's alright, I was just interested. You can tell me something else if you like. Maybe your name? Or we can just sit here." The boy was silent and John was patient. He had had a lot of practice these days with Harry and her drinking. He needed the boy to trust him so they could both escape. He wouldn't leave him here; there was no way he would leave without him. And if he needed to wait till the next morning, then okay he would wait. "Sherlock. My name is Sherlock." Surprised he got an answer, John's head moved up after watching his own feet for a very long time. "Nice to meet you, Sherlock." A normal conversation was probably impossible. "Sherlock, I don't know why you are locked up here, but whatever the reason, it's wrong. Can I loosen the collar around your neck and the two of us just go away from here?" Sherlock's hand shot up to the collar holding it like a lifeline. "No, you can't do it. If I try to run he will punish me and he will put the metal one back on. Please don't make him hurt me." The tears that had stopped before came again and this time he cried and screamed and John had to go back a few steps. He didn't hear the sound of the door opening upstairs or the feet on the wooden steps. He didn't see the man coming down as John was focusing on Sherlock. With soothing words and apologies he tried to calm him down but nothing worked until a shadow fell over him and Sherlock stopped. The frightened face was the last thing John saw before his world went black.
The first thing that came back was his hearing and the sound that had woken him wasn't pleasant. He heard screaming and, for every scream, the noise of something hitting a body. John's eyes opened and saw the worst picture he had seen in his twenty years of living. A tall man, not old but in his mid-forties was standing over Sherlock. The boy was lying on the ground, knees pulled up to his head to protect himself from his father's kicks. And the man kicked him with a force that let John fear Sherlock wouldn't see another day. With every kick the father shouted at the child and with every kick Sherlock screamed in pain and apologized.
"You did it again, you freak."
"I'm sorry. I won't do it again."
"You are a monster. Who allowed you to speak? And stop crying."
"I'm sorry father. It won't happen again. I promise."
And before the next kick could come John found his voice. "Stop hurting him, you will kill him like that." The man turned around his eyes showing the insane state of his mind and for the first time in this cellar John felt fear. He wouldn't get out here unscathed. That was if he ever got out at all. "Oh our 'guest' has woken up again. Hope you feel comfortable because you will stay here for a long time. This little shit here didn't want me to get rid of you so you will stay here with him. Maybe we can have a bit fun together. Or I will use you to train this creature." With these words he left, walked up the stairs and through the door.
As soon as the door had closed John crawled over to Sherlock. His body was covered in his father's boot prints and the tears were still falling. John tried to help Sherlock, to have a look at his injuries or at least to give him some kind of comfort, but the abused child crept away and coiled up on himself hiding as far from John as possible.
After a while, he didn't know how much time had passed he looked over to Sherlock. He didn't move anymore or cry. He just lay there. "Thank you." A bit thin for saving his life, John thought. "For what?" Came the answer from the wall. "He said you stopped him getting rid of me. That means the same as stopping him from killing me and I'm very happy I'm still alive." John's eyes closed, he was tired but he knew he wouldn't be able to sleep, but resting his eyes a while could be good. "Why? Why are you thanking me for keeping you in here? Sometimes death sounds pretty good to me." Sherlock looked into John's direction by moving one of his arms. "You think it's better to die down here than fight to live?" John opened his eyes again and saw the hollow ones across the room.
He had seen eyes like this before. A professor who had been in a war zone in Africa had shown his students pictured of war victims, not all had been children, but the look had always been the same. Hollow. All of them had accepted their fate and given up on hope. There was no difference if it was a torture victim, a child soldier, a mother who had lost her husband and children. They had had enough; life for them meant suffering and nothing else.
John's thought were interrupted by the voice of his pilot who told that they will arrive in twenty minutes. Back in the present John was glade someone got him out of this nightmare. Not that he would ever change one of decision he did during the time in the cellar or after it in the hospital. He would wish that no one would ever hurt Sherlock. He will never let someone do it. He can't see these eyes again.
Mycroft thinks that Sherlock can't remember or that he lock it away but he isn't the one who gets visits from a crying, childlike man who is afraid of the darkness and the monsters that live in it. He would never tell everyone. This is something between Sherlock and him. Only the one who lived in that hell could understand it. And Sherlock, he was far longer down there then him.
Sometimes he wonders how Sherlock could trust another human being again. Of course it takes ages and much help and convincing by him but he trust his colleges and his brother even if he couldn't admit it. John was proud of him. Every single achievement as small as they are against the fear and life was a victory.
Chapter 4: It was John
Six hours, twenty minutes and five… four… three… two… one seconds. Six hours, nineteen minutes and fifty-nine seconds.
Sherlock lay in the dark on the sofa counting the seconds until he would see John again. By looking at the empty living room he felt the familiar cold floating through his body again. It was wrong, so wrong to be separated. How could any of them have suggested this could work or even be good for them?
He knew, Sherlock Holmes had known since he was eleven that he couldn't live without John Watson at his side. But how could you explain something like that, this deep bond between the two of them? Deeper as friends or family could ever be. Stronger a connection as he ever had felt to another human being.
Sherlock rolled to the other side facing the wall and closing his eyes. John would be disappointed when he found out that he hadn't even tried to sleep and he would find out so Sherlock closed his eyes. But as usual the darkness behind his eyes scared him and he opened them again. It was not that he got nightmares or flashbacks every night but since the incident at the crime scene three months ago they came more often and without John; there was no one to chase the monsters away. Of course Sherlock knew there was no such thing as monsters and the particular monster that always hurt him in his nightmares was dead. But Sherlock needed John to give him the assurance that he was protected, that he was safe and no monster could ever hurt him again.
Thanks to Lestrade Sherlock had been able to talk to John once; he couldn't remember the conversation in that building as he had been high from that drug. So that one didn't count. One conversation was not enough and when John arrived he would never let go of him again.
Sherlock had tried to distract himself with a much higher case load. To his surprise and joy his appearance at a crime scene following that episode had not been too awkward. He had received a few concerned looks and Donovan had been extremely nice but they had treated him like always. He should thank Lestrade for that one day. The detective had also managed to get him a few cold cased that Sherlock solved between Lestrade's calls.
Sherlock's thoughts wandered back to John or better to his coming back. Mycroft would send a car and he was sure his brother would be in this car too. To escort him or something like that, to make sure he would be safe. His brother's face was always covered in guilt every time he found out about a nightmare or a flashback. He could see that Mycroft wanted to help, but Sherlock would never let him. He wasn't angry or disappointed at his brother. There was just no way he could ever understand what had happened. Only John could give him the feeling of home and safety that he needed after an attack.
He had never told his brother what had happened and Mycroft thought that all the bad memories were locked away someplace in the mind palace. Behind a door with a heavy lock, key destroyed and to which Sherlock could never get access again. Sherlock never corrected him and that was a good thing. He didn’t need more guilt or even worse pity.
No one needed to know that Sherlock remembered, excepted John. He remembered every second in that dark and cold place that had once been his home and then become his hell.
It had been a normal day at the Holmes Mansion, except for the lack of noises in the house. A week had passed since the funeral and Sherlock missed his Mummy. His Daddy had locked himself in his room and his brother hadn't come home. He was lonely. All the servants had been fired by his father and the house had lost all his life. If Sherlock had known what would happen he would have run or hid but his father's sudden change of behavior that had led to a three year prison-like stay in the darkness had caught him by surprise.
He had been only eight years old, how could a child who trusted his family, his father, expect that he would suddenly become something like a monster. But when Sherlock had seen his father the first time after the funeral he hadn't recognized him. The biggest change had been in the eyes. His father's eyes hadn't been calm, trusting, loving or anything like before. His eyes were flooded with madness. Insanity was dripping out of them and Sherlock had been frozen to the floor when his father had come to him. With a strong grip he had taken Sherlock's arm and dragged him to the cellar door, then down the stairs to the dark room. Ignoring the screaming and crying of his son he had used rope to bind him. Sherlock, small for his age, had been thrown into the corner.
"Stay there or you will be punished, you freak. It's your fault that your mother died and I will let you pay for it." These had been the last words from his father before he had left Sherlock alone in the dark. The boy was frightened not only by his father's behavior of but also of the darkness in the cellar and the little voice in his head that repeated his words over and over again.
From that day on it only became worse, the ropes were exchanged for a metal chain that bound Sherlock to the wall. Food came only on rare occasions. Sometimes his father would throw a bucket of cold water over him to get him clean but after some time it wouldn't be enough to wash away the dried blood and dirt from his skin. But worse then every blow, every kick his father did against him were the words he always used to blame his son for the death of his wife. The word freak was one of the nicer ones. His father not only blamed Sherlock for her death, no he also tried to get rid of Sherlock's intellect by using violence. Sherlock, who was never able to keep his mouth from speaking out things he saw, was punished for his bright mind, hurt for being a genius. Every time one of his deductions came from his lips his father punched him until he wasn't able to talk anymore.
Sherlock tried to stop talking, which wasn't easy but after enough pain you learned to stop it. He tried to endure the pain without crying so as not to fuel his father's rage, but most of the time it didn't work. After a few escape attempts and the consequent punishment that was so bad it let him wish to die, he stopped them completely, he stopped fighting and he stopped hoping his brother would come the help him. Sherlock also forgot things, things like how his life had been before his mother had died and his brother left. The happiness he felt at the time when thinking about his family and his life. With every hour he spent in hell he forgot more of it until nothing was left.
The day John Watson had appeared in his life had been like the day before, full of pain where all he could do was wait until the night would come and he could rest. His father left for the day after another 'washing'. It was not the first time; it was only to make him scream because of the icy water. The sound of his steps vanished and Sherlock could breathe again. He had survived another day and right now he didn't care if this was a good or bad thing.
The noise of the opening window drew his attention back to reality. Someone was coming inside through the cellar window. As he saw the young man who was looking around he tried to hide and draw back to the wall. What followed was the strangest and best thing that ever happened to him.
There was someone that wanted to help him, who wasn't afraid about his ability to see more than normal people did, who wanted to know more and was interested to hear how he did it. And Sherlock was happy, not really happy but it felt right when the man, sorry John, asked him to run away with him. It seemed the right thing to do even if he was too afraid. He would have at that point probably, for whatever reason, started to trust John but after his father had come down again because of the noises that Sherlock had made, the possibility of escaping had been gone and all he could do was to ask his father to spare John's life. It was cruel and not fair to keep him in this hell but Sherlock was tired of being alone down there. To his surprise John had thanked him for that. He had thanked him for living in hell.
John Watson was fascinating.
Sherlock wasn't alone anymore. When his father would come down to hurt him, John would do his best to protect him or focus his anger at him. The reason John gave Sherlock every time he asked 'why' was simple and not comprehensible to Sherlock: "Because I can try to save you, to protect you. No one should live like this and I will do everything in my power to get us out of here." After that John had fallen asleep next to Sherlock holding his hands and ignoring his broken finger.
Of course his father could see how fast they began depending on each other and that day, the day which would be the last one down in his hell; Sherlock was confronted with a monster so cruel his brilliant mind wasn't even able to imagine it and a new kind of fear.
Both of them had been exhausted, they hadn't seen any food for a few days and sleep wasn't something you could really get with your whole body in pain. Sherlock was the first that felt the difference when his father came down. His steps on the stairs had a strange sound, determined and final. Sherlock stood up followed by John who also felt the change in the air. As the door to the cellar opened the black metal of a gun shown in the small light and both took a step back. John pushed Sherlock behind his back to cover him.
"Get out of my way." The insane eyes of the man where fixed on the shaking boy behind John, who didn't move. "Serves you right."
The shot was loud; the sound echoed in the basement and mixed itself with the screams of two people. The one out of pain the other out of despair. John fell down on his knees, one hand on his shoulder where the bullet had hit him. Sherlock flinched back from the gun and his father; he wasn't able to reach out for John because his father was already next to his only friend. His father aimed at Sherlock, his finger tight around the trigger and…
Before the bullet left the chamber John jumped to his feet, lay his arms around Sherlock's father's neck and twisted it until the sickening sound of breaking bones rang out. Both man fell to the ground, John on his back and stayed there, not moving.
Sherlock's eyes broke free from the picture of his father with the broken neck lying on his stomach. He walked past him without looking again and knelt down next to John, pressing his hands on the wound that was bleeding like crazy.
Sherlock couldn't really remember what happened after that. It was all a dark confusing blur. He couldn't remember his brother or the police, nor the ambulance ride to the hospital. The first clear thing was John being next to him in a hospital bed, breathing and still alive. Ignoring his own injuries he had climbed into John's bed (on the uninjured side) and hid under John's blanket. He didn't know his brother was sitting in the corner of the room watching him. John needed two days to wake up and be lucid; in all this time Sherlock neither talk nor let a doctor examine him.
It was John who made Sherlock see the doctors.
It was John who made him eat and drink and sleep.
It was John who comforted him after nightmares.
And it was John who talked to the police and Mycroft, explaining what he knew, what had happened as fare as he could tell. He was ready to be punished for what he had done while Sherlock set next to him holding on to John's arm to show them he would never let go of him.
Sherlock's eyes focused on the present again. Chasing away the dark times he was watching the rising sun outside the window. It was time. He picked up his coat and walked outside the door, a car was already waiting for him to bring him to the airport. To John.
As Sherlock got into the car he wasn't surprised to see his brother, what surprised him though was Lestrade. He sat next to Mycroft as if it was a normal thing to collect someone from the airport you had never met before. But Sherlock understood the detective's motives in some way. He was worried about him and wanted to meet the man who was apparently the most important person in the life of his consultant and friend.
The drive when by in total silence, no one felt the urge to talk and Sherlock started to relax with the two older men. He was safe, surrounded by people who wanted to protect him and would do everything to make him feel home.
Sherlock watched the passing city. In less than an hour John would be by his side. They would be together again. He felt physical pain because of the distance still and all of Sherlock's thoughts were with John.
John needed to be safe.
John needed to be unharmed.
John had to come back with his smile and his calm nature that always settled Sherlock down.
John had built a wall between them and the monsters that visited in the night.
Sherlock opened his eyes again. He hadn't noticed he had closed them. They had almost arrived at the private military airport where John's plane would arrive.
Sherlock thoughts went back to this companions who were with him in the car. Mycroft who still felt guilty and regretted many things he had done or failed to do. Sherlock had told him once it wasn't his fault but the words of a traumatized teenager who had taken drugs to silence the monsters had probably not been the words his brother had needed. He had needed other words, honest words from a clear and sober mind, words of truth and trust. Words Sherlock hadn't been able to offer in the past and had never tried to speak out again. Mycroft watched him, maybe trying to read his mind or mood. Maybe it was time to not only surprise his brother but also to release him from a few of his own monsters.
"Mycroft. Do you remember what I told you after my first OD?" Mycroft's eyes focused carefully on him.
"Yes, little brother, I do." His body stiffened.
"You know it wasn't your fault and I never blamed you for what happened. You weren't able to help me and you don't need to feel guilty for what happened to me and John." Mycroft's mouth fell open; tears what wouldn't fall appeared in his eyes. A thing Sherlock was very grateful for. He didn't need a crying big brother in this car. "Don't say anything; it was just something I had forgotten to tell you." Sherlock looked out of the window again. In the refection he could see Mycroft taking a few deep breaths to collect himself again and Lestrade, who hadn't been looking at them, staring out of the window and smiling.
John had told him that Lestrade was his friend. That Sherlock could trust the detective. John had never met the man but he was always better with people and in understanding the meaning behind their words or actions. When John told him he could trust someone he would always and in every situation to so. John was his compass. No other person, no rule, not even his own mind, was as trustworthy as John's word.
Sherlock risked a quick look over to Lestrade; he hoped John and Lestrade would like each other when they met in person, because Sherlock would bring John to the next crime scene and the one after that, actually to every crime scene from now on.
They arrived at the airport and left the car. The plane was landing in that moment and Sherlock's heart jumped a beat. A few more minutes and he could let his walls down. He was nervous and inpatient. Sherlock jumped from one foot to the other as the doors opened and a handful of soldiers came out. Some were hurt but none were in a critical condition as far as Sherlock could tell. And finally a ray of sunlight hit John Watson's short blond hair. He was carrying his bag over his shoulder. John turned his head in all directions until his eyes locked onto Sherlock. Both men looked at each other just a second, a smile broke on both their lips and they ran into each other's arms.
The other soldiers passed them with smiles on their faces. 'Captain Watson', their brave and strong leader in more than one battle, who had treated their injuries while bullets flew around them, was crying in the arms of another man. They all knew who this man was. The one he had risked his life for on a mission because he needed to talk with him over the phone. But that was okay.
Mycroft and Lestrade were waiting further away by the car. There was no hurry. Mycroft would let whole countries wait to enjoy that moment were he could see his little brother being happy. Lestrade saw it too, the smile and the tears and he knew that it wouldn't be the last time he would see John Watson. He had already worked on an explanation for his supervisor, why not only a consulting detective but also an ex-army doctor would now both be part of the yard and walking his crime scenes.
Blind to the world around them, Sherlock and John held each other, feeling the warmth of the skin, the tickle of a breath on the neck and the heartbeat of a still living soul.
"I'm back. I missed you and I will never leave again. I hope you like that idea." Sherlock liked it, very much but he had at least to try to give an answer that sounded like he would survive if the opposite were the case.
"I think that is something I can live with. As long as you do not start to complain about the eyeballs in the fridge again." John shook his head laughing.
"Let's talk about where in the fridge you can store your experiments. I guess the guy next to Mycroft is Greg Lestrade, the one that called me. You can introduce me to your friend and then we will be home soon." John led Sherlock over to the black car.
Lestrade held out his hand. "So you are the one that is able to live with this crazy man."
John took Lestrade's hand and shook it. "Yes, and you are the one who can work with him. We should go for a drink sometime."
Releasing the hand, Lestrade says. "Sounds good to me."
Both men smirked. Mycroft entered the car to hide his smile and Sherlock tried his best to keep a serious face while rolling his eyes.
"You can both talk more about me at the next crime scene. John will accompany me from now on." Sherlock sat down on his previous seat. John followed next to him and Lestrade sat next to Mycroft. No one was offended that Sherlock had decided that alone and he was happy that no one tried to change his mind.
Because now everything would be ok again. John was back.
the end ^^